By Sam Bertschmann
After 31 years as a band, legendary alternative rock group R.E.M. has broken up.
The group posted the following announcement on their website Wednesday, Sept. 21:“To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.”
Formed by Michael Stipe (vocals), Peter Buck (guitar), Mike Mills (bass), and Bill Berry (drums) in Athens, Ga., R.E.M. developed a cult following in the early eighties, earning popularity on college radio stations with their jangly garage rock sound.
With the release of 1987’s Document, featuring singles “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” and “The One I Love,” R.E.M. became one of the most well-known and beloved bands in the world.
R.E.M. enjoyed similar success throughout the rest of the eighties and nineties, with hits including “Stand,” “Losing My Religion,” “Man on the Moon,” and “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”
Berry left the group in 1997, retiring to a quieter life on his farm.
The group continued as a trio, making records that lacked the commercial success of their predecessors. R.E.M. released their 15th and final studio album, Collapse Into Now, in March 2011. It was generally well received by critics.
This unexpected split was apparently amicable. Included in the press release reporting the news of their breakup were statements from each remaining band member.
“There’s no disharmony here, no falling-outs, no lawyers squaring-off,” Mills said of R.E.M.’s separation. “We’ve made this decision together, amicably and with each other’s best interests at heart. The time just feels right.”
“A wise man once said, ‘The skill in attending a party is knowing when it’s time to leave.’ We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we’re going to walk away from it,” said Stipe.
“One of the things that was always so great about being in R.E.M. was the fact that the records and the songs we wrote meant as much to our fans as they did to us,” said Buck. “It was, and still is, important to us to do right by you. Being a part of your lives has been an unbelievable gift. Thank you.”
R.E.M. will release a Greatest Hits album this November.